1938 Horch 850 Limousine
5 Liter, I-8, 120 bhp

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August Horch was one of the earliest automobile pioneers in Germany. He was born in 1868. As a young man he worked under Carl Benz – in Mannheim – as a department manager. He was a brilliant engineer and organizer. Wanting to make faster improvements on the early automobile, he fought himself fighting constantly against the autocratic Mr. Benz.

August Horch started his own business in 1899 in Cologne. In 1900, he built the first motorcar under the name of Horch. His advanced designs soon were widely recognized and acclaimed. In 1904, Horch designed a new four-cylinder motor, and about 10 cars were produced. In order to produce his cars in greater quantity, and needing more space, the factory moved from Cologne to Zwickau in Saxony. There, the original small business became incorporated and employed about 100 workers. In 1908, for the first time, more than 100 automobiles were produced.

In 1910, Horch introduced a six-cylinder motor, which was a complete failure – only six cars were sold. This lead to a disagreement with the Board of Directors over the company’s future, and August left the company.

Being a levelheaded German, a few weeks later August Horch started a new factory and called it – what else?- Horch! The original factory sued him for the sole rights to the trade name “Horch” and the courts found in their favor. It is said that August’s son came up with the new name for the company – he simply translated the German word “Horch” (the verb for “listen”) into Latin – Audi. Another famous marque was born, but that’s a whole different story…

The first factory retained the name Horch and became a leading car manufacturer in Germany. Horch competed with Maybach and Mercedes-Benz for the German luxury vehicle market.

In the depression years in Europe, as in the U.S.A., small car factories dropped out of the market, or teamed up with other small manufacturers. In June 1932, Horch, DKW, Audi and Wanderer formed a conglomerate and “Auto Union AG” was created.

The Horch made its name by being a noble and elegant car. They were heavy (the model before you weighs almost 7,000 pounds) and big – but the quality, dependability and endurance were appreciated and legendary. A total of 40,000 cars were produced from 1900 to 1944. Today, less than 200 Horch cars are left in the world.

The LeMay 1938 Horch 850 Limousine is something of a celebrity, at least in political circles. Once owned by the city of Stuttgart, it was used to ferry about the likes of Konrad Adenauer the first Chancellor of the then new “West Germany.”  Adenauer’s anti-Nazi- and anti-Communist stance during the war made him the logical choice to take over the reigns of the new German state.  He assumed that position in 1949.  Because German prestige car manufacturers could not resume full scale production immediately after the war, most government officials were required to use vehicles of pre-war vintage.  Due to its storied history, the LeMay Horch was loaned to the Petersen Automotive Museum in 2006 as part of their “Presidents, Popes and Potentates: Cars of Heads of State” Exhibit – a fitting tribute.


  • This specific Horch was once owned by the city of Stuttgart, and it was used to transport Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor of new “West Germany”
  • Horch merged to form Auto Union in 1932